WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU DON’T LIKE A STUDENT

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In a perfect world, we hit it off with everyone that we meet and we become instant friends. In a perfect world, we get on well with all our colleagues. In a perfect world, we love every student who walks into our classroom.

The problem is, we don’t live in a perfect world.

We don’t like everyone, especially not everyone we work with and that unfortunately extends to our students. We don’t choose our students so it shouldn’t be surprising that we won’t get on with all of them. Yet there’s a very real pressure for teachers to create a wonderfully warm atmosphere in the classroom – a place where everyone likes everyone and we all get on like a house on fire.

Except that when our students have problems with other students we don’t bat an eyelid, but when it happens to us we kind of feel like a bit of a failure. What teacher doesn’t like their students?

Well, it happens. So, the question is not why it happens but what can we do about it when it does?

And the obvious answer is: nothing. As the teacher, you cannot show preference to any of your students, either positive or negative. Just as you cannot be seen to favour the students you enjoy having in your class, so you cannot make it evident that you don’t get on with other students. Instead, you must act like all your students are the same in your eyes and in your classroom, which they should be, anyway.

Personal preferences should not inform your teaching

Your personal preferences should not inform your teaching and should not affect your behaviour in the classroom in any way, which can be difficult.

But if you do find yourself looking forward to seeing some students and hoping others will be absent, don’t let it worry you. It’s natural. It’s the classroom situation that’s unnatural, if you think about it. Personality clashes are bound to happen when you put 30 random people in a room and tell them to work together.

Chances are your preferences will depend on the day anyway, and how much sleep you had the night before, how patient you are feeling or how much coffee you’ve had. We are not superheroes (not all the time, anyway) so there’s no need to feel like a failure if you aren’t madly in love with all of your students. As long as you don’t advertise the fact and don’t let your personal feelings affect your professional behaviour.

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